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Would A Pilot 78G Bb Be Suitable For Humanist Roman Bookhands?


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Would a Pilot 78G BB or B be suitable for these hands? If not, could you recommend an alternative in the same price range?


I know I've seen it chiefly recommended for Italic hands, but Pickering mentions a Rotring Art pen with a sharpened nib in his exemplar and those seem to be primarily used for Italic penmanship as well. Since the hands don't have massive variations in lineweight, I don't think I'll need it either, though it's possible they're subtle and I just don't yet have the eye to pick up on them.





Edited by SIrNibCollector
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The pilot should be good. I have limited experience with the rotring.


Maybe you should also consider a Lamy Safari where you have a wide range of nib widths to choose from. With the safari, you have a couple of things to be aware of. It has a triangular grip section which youre either going to love or hate. And you have a proprietary system from Lamy which wont work with non lamy nibs. You might also have to tweak it a bit if the flow is not generous.


The nib option for lamy are 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9. If you get just the one pen and multiple nib sizes you can swap them out anytime.


Alternatively you can try a noodlers konrad or ahab with bock or jowo #6 nibs. Same nib grade options as the lamy options mentioned above, but the ahab/konrad is a tinkerers pen. You wont see any flow issues with it.


Lastly, the pilot parallel may also be something you might consider. Its very popular with calligraphers.

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Thanks. I actually have a few Lamy Safaris, so I might look into acquiring some nibs. Any recommendations for the hands I linked to?


I don't have the experience to know which nib is appropriate for what. I just know that Pickering mentioned his Rotring Art pen with sharpened nib and a Waterman Ideal, which is not an Italic nib I don't think. Perhaps I should have just asked what type of nib would be suitable.

Edited by SIrNibCollector
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Any straight edge would do. Pickering was referring to the extra-small lettering that he is best of.


When learning, use a large edged nib. The larger the easier to learn. Then progressive downgrade nib size as you feel comfortable. Eventually to a CI nib...that is a crisp italic nib. Same with CI...large first then small.

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Thanks. I guess I'll start by swapping out one of the Fine nibs in my Lamy Safari with a 1.1 mm nib and see how that treats me.

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Your second linked example appears to be typeset -- only the illuminated A (and the squiggle in the margin) might be done by hand.


Look at the capital Ms in the body... The left vertical is thinner than the right vertical. Doing that by pen would require rotating the hand for each stroke. Most calligraphy/italic hands are designed to have the pen held at a constant angle: the thickest line thereby being a diagonal in line with the pen, and the thinnest transverse to it. The rotation angle varies depending upon the hand.


Compare to (blatantly linked from Wikipedia), which is supposed to be an actual example of Poggio's handwriting.Poggio_handwriting.jpg

Examine the M in Morte -- wherein the \ diagonals are thicker than the / diagonals. The rest of the text tends to follow that behavior.

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Oh. I had wondered about that, but figured he was just using an odd technique. Unfortunately, you appear to be correct as I've found the page from the actual handwritten manuscript, and it's less machine-like in its regularity. Shame. It's not badly rendered, but it's not quite what I'm looking for either. I'll just stick to Pickering's hand, modified a bit with some inspiration from the typeset page. It's just a shame I can't find any instructional material for it.



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You definitely can do it with a FP with a CI nib (fine or medium). I think traditionally they use a quill and the paper is quite different or vellum.


In any case, use a FP with fine/medium and grind to a CI.




Should you want to try, else send the pen to someone who can do it for you.


However, I think it is most difficult to use unless you are well endowed with skills to use a CI.

And, it is a very slow writing on very good paper.


Good Luck

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Does the nib produce line variation between horizontals and verticals? If yes, BB is better than an F for beginners. You will write larger letter shapes with the broader nib, which helps to master letter shapes (most calligraphic letters consist of more than 1-2 pen strokes). Example of line variation:




The black is a 2.3mm italic (actually stub) Rotring Artpen (a B is around 0.9 and a BB around 1.1.-1.2mm in width). The blue is a regular medium Parker IM.


Sharpened Artpens would cease to be stubs. A stub has rounded rather than razor-type edges at the point of contact with the paper, so they do write even if you hold the pen vertically on the paper. As you might have guessed stubs -virtually all steel italic nibs are stubs these days- are better for beginners and can perform modern calligraphy as well as old-style calligraphy, so most professionals like them as they come from the factory.

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To address your original question: The Pilot 78G B and BB nibs are more than adequate for italic, gothic, humanist bookhand or any other script requiring a chisel-tipped nib. I agree with _Inky that a broader nib is preferred when first learning a new script. The Pilot BB is around 1.5 mm, I believe. The B is around 1.0mm. If you want to use a fine chisel nib, I find the Pilot B is much better than the Lamy 1.1. The wider Lamy italic nibs are pretty crisp.


Another good, relatively inexpensive option is the Kaweco calligraphy set. Those are #5 Bock nibs and can be swapped into any pen that uses those nibs.


Custom grinding nibs is a whole other set of issues.



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In that case, I'll pick up a Lamy 1.5mm nib and the Pilot BB to compare semi-familiar against unfamiliar. The Kaweco calligraphy set definitely looks interesting, and I'll set my sights on that dependent on my upcoming experience. Thanks for the advice.

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